Census Results 2020-21

– 2021 –


The second CiC Census launched on April 20, 2021, and ran for two weeks. It was promoted in our newsletter, on our website as well as via LinkedIn and Twitter. All supporters (735 at the time) were invited to participate, of whom 210 did (so, 29%). While the percentage of supporters who took part was lower than 2020 (see previous data below), we received 36% more submissions compared with the previous period. The average time taken to complete it was six minutes – slightly more than predicted – but less than 2020, as we reduced the number of questions from 38 to just 26. These are the anonymised and aggregated survey results.


1. Age

65 and over1.43%
Seven in ten respondents are aged between 25 and 34. This is very similar to 2020.

2. Gender

Prefer to self-describe0.48%
Just over a quarter of respondents are female. This is very similar to 2020.

3. Ethnicity

White: English / Welsh / Scottish / Northern Irish / British81.90%
Any other White background4.29%
Asian / Asian British: Indian3.81%
Mixed / Multiple ethnic group: White and Asian2.38%
White: Irish1.90%
Mixed / Multiple ethnic group: White and Black Caribbean1.43%
Black / African / Caribbean / Black British: Caribbean1.43%
Asian / Asian British: Pakistani0.95%
Mixed / Multiple ethnic group: White and Black African0.48%
Any other Mixed / Multiple ethnic background0.48%
Asian / Asian British: Chinese0.48%
Black / African / Caribbean / Black British: African0.48%
82% of respondents are White British and Northern Irish. This is very similar to 2020.


4. Where are you working – usually and for the most part – right now?

Outside of London29.52%
Seven in ten respondents now work in London. That’s a decrease of 16 points from 86%.

5. Looking ahead to when people may return to their workplace, how often do you expect to be in the office each week?

0 days – I will be remote working going forward 4.76%
1 day5.71%
2 days28.10%
3 days33.33%
4 days10.48%
5 days10.95%
N/A – I was already working from home6.67%
Six in ten respondents expect to be in their workplace two or three days per week going forward. Only 10% expect to return full-time while 5% have switched entirely to working from home. We did not poll this in 2020.

6. How would you categorise your employment – for the most part?

Agency / Consultancy38.10%
Not-for-profit / Charity*13.33%
Trade association*6.67%
UK Parliament / Constituency, including MPs and Peers5.71%
Civil Service3.33%
UK Government, including SpAds2.86%
Student / Graduate0.95%
The Conservative party0.48%
Two-fifths of respondents work for a consultancy vs and two-fifths work in-house*. Employment is at 99.5%. This is very similar to 2020. We’ve noted your comments about arms length bodies, public sector and recruitment.

7. How would you categorise your role – usually and for the most part?

Public affairs / Government relations / Lobbying46.19%
Public relations / Media relations / Corporate communications / Financial PR27.14%
Other (please specify)5.71%
UK Parliament (non MPs and Peers)4.29%
Digital communications / Social media2.86%
Student / Graduate2.38%
Civil servant1.90%
Member of Parliament or Peer1.43%
UK Government, including SpAds1.43%
46% of respondents work in public affairs vs 27% in public relations. That’s a fall of ten points for public affairs, but may be linked to us adding more categories this year.

8. How much experience do you have in your field?

Up to two years13.33%
Up to five years17.14%
Up to ten years30.48%
Up to 15 years19.05%
15+ years20.00%
Almost two-fifths of respondents have more than ten years of experience. We did not poll this exact question in 2020, opting then for titles over years.


9. How did you discover us – in the first instance?

Colleague / Friend35.24%
Social media, including LinkedIn and Twitter33.33%
Ellwood Atfield8.57%
News article e.g. ConservativeHome or POLITICO6.67%
Founding member6.19%
Personal invitation via email4.76%
Personal invitation via social media3.81%
Other 0.95%
Search engine0.48%
A third of respondents were referred by a colleague or friend while a third came across us on social media. This is very similar to 2020.

10. Why did you join us?

Industry networking77.62%
Industry news50.00%
Job opportunities39.52%
Receive newsletter36.67%
Social aspect36.19%
Stay relevant32.88%
Business development24.76%
Contribute ideas and content24.76%
Mentoring scheme23.81%
Other (please specify)2.38%
Respondents cited industry networking (78%) and events (42%) as well as industry news (50%) as the three main reasons for joining us.The social aspect has fallen 15 points from 51 to 36% and business development has decreased seven points from 32 to 25%. On the other side, job opportunities has risen by 14 points from 25 to 40% and the mentoring scheme (new) scored 24%.


11. Assuming the party conference goes ahead, will you attend?

Don’t know20.95%
Six in ten respondents plan to attend conference in Manchester.

12. If you were to attend, would you like there to be a CiC networking reception?

97% of respondents would attend a CiC networking reception in Manchester.


13. What would you like to be in the newsletter?

Event invitations73.81%
Job opportunities70.95%
Industry updates (summarised news)62.86%
Hear from our parliamentary patrons / Parliamentary profiles56.67%
Spotlight on something new / innovative52.38%
Mentoring opportunities45.71%
Careers advice45.24%
Blog content42.86%
Hear from our industry patrons39.05%
Hear from our chair34.29%
Hear from our directors26.67%
Book reviews20.00%
Competitions / quizzes 6.19%
Other (please specify)0.95%
Respondents cited event invitations (74%), job opportunities (71%) and industry updates as the three main things they would like in the newsletter. This is very similar to 2020. Two-fifths of respondents work for a consultancy vs and two-fifths work in-house*. Employment is at 99.5%. This is very similar to 2020. We’ve noted your comments about CPD and ordinary supporters.


14. How would you rate the UK Government’s Covid-19 communications strategy since the start of 2021?

Weighted average 3.46 out of 5. Average score. That’s up from 3.18 in 2020.

15. The UK Government’s Covid-19 communications strategy has _____ since 2020.

worsened 10.95%
stayed the same23.81%
improved 65.24%
Two-thirds of respondents believe the Government’s strategy has improved since 2020.

16. How do you rate the visual appearance of the new Downing Street briefing room? (It will still be used for other briefings)

Weighted average 3.10 out of 5. Average score. In 2020, 3.79 was the weighted average for the then visual look (setting, podiums and branding).

17. Of those who attend Cabinet, who do you believe has been the best communicator during the pandemic?

Rishi Sunak MP55.71%
Matt Hancock MP9.05%
Grant Shapps MP9.05%
Michael Gove MP6.67%
Boris Johnson MP5.71%
Elizabeth Truss MP3.33%
Oliver Dowden2.86%
Kwasi Kwarteng MP1.43%
Jacob Rees-Mogg MP1.43%
Priti Patel MP0.95%
George Eustice MP0.95%
Lord Frost CMG0.95%
Dominic Raab MP0.48%
Alok Sharma MP0.48%
Brandon Lewis MP0.48%
Steve Barclay MP0.48%
For a second year, respondents are most impressed with the Chancellor of the Exchequer (+1.46 points). The Health Secretary (-4.02 points) and Transport Secretary (+6.44 points) follow behind. The Prime Minister has fallen out of the top three. Nine Cabinet attendees received no votes.

18. Which rising stars would you promote at the reshuffle?

1Kemi Badenoch6.43%
2Tom Tugendhat4.09%
2Victoria Atkins4.09%
3Alicia Kearns *3.12%
4Paul Holmes *2.73%
4Tracey Crouch *2.73%
5Joy Morrissey *2.53%
6Gillian Keegan2.34%
7Claire Coutinho2.14%
7Theo Clarke *2.14%
Supporters were invited to nominate up to three MPs or Peers who they see as “rising stars” within the Party and should be considered for a promotion at the reshuffle. 513 votes were recognised for 128 different politicians. We’ve ranked the top ten here. Five are CiC patrons. 80% are women MPs.

19. Where do you source your news from?

Mainstream online media 87.14%
Mainstream broadcast e.g. TV and radio72.38%
Political: POLITICO63.81%
Social media62.86%
Political: Guido Fawkes60.95%
Mainstream print media52.38%
Political: ConservativeHome49.05%
Other (please specify)4.29%
Respondents get their news from a variety of sources, including those not listed as options here e.g. trade and podcasts. Of the three main blogs, POLITICO comes out on top.

20. How trustworthy are these news channels?

Weighted average (change)
Bloomberg 3.91 (+0.13)
BBC 3.89 (+0.24)
ITV  3.76 (+0.26)
Sky  3.68 (+0.26)
CNBC 3.29 (+0.15)
Channel 5  3.12 (+0.18)
Channel 4  2.96 (+0.43)
Al Jazeera 2.58 (+0.13)
Russia Today 1.46 (-)
This is the same order as in 2020. All outlets, except for Russia Today, saw small net increases in trustworthiness.

21. Taking everything into account, would you say that the launch of GB News is a good or bad thing for the UK overall?

Average rating 3.90 out of 5. Good score.

22. Broadly speaking, do you support the PRCA’s six-point Public Confidence Plan for Reform in response to the Cameron Inquiry?

Removing unsures, more than three quarters of respondents support the PRCA’s plan.

23. Has your organisation grown / hired new staff during the pandemic?

Almost three quarters of respondents said their organisation has grown / hired new staff during the pandemic.

24. “I’m optimistic about the future of our sector.” Where do you stand on that position statement?

Mean average 8.0 out of 10. Very good score. Up from 7.24 in 2020.


25. All things considered, do you feel being a supporter of us is worthwhile?

Net satisfaction remains above 97%.

26. Please let us know about any other feedback you have.


– 2020 –


The inaugural CiC Census launched on May 6, 2020, and ran for two weeks. It was promoted in our newsletter, on our website as well as via LinkedIn and Twitter. All supporters (429 at the time) were invited to participate, of whom 154 did (so, 36%). The average time taken to complete it was nine minutes – lower than was indicated. These are the anonymised and aggregated survey results.


1. Age

65 and over0.65%
94% of respondents are under 54 vs the average party member who, based on news reports, is 57 years old.

2. Gender

A quarter of respondents are female.

3. Ethnicity

White: English / Welsh / Scottish / Northern Irish / British84.87%
White: Irish3.29%
Mixed / Multiple ethnic group: White and Asian2.63%
Any other Mixed / Multiple ethnic background1.97%
Asian / Asian British: Indian1.97%
Any other White background1.32%
Mixed / Multiple ethnic group: White and Black Caribbean1.32%
Black / African / Caribbean / Black British: African1.32%
Any other Black / African / Caribbean background0.66%
Other ethnic group: Arab0.66%
(Excluding those who preferred not to say) 85% of respondents are White British and Northern Irish.


4. Where do you work – usually and for the most part?

Outside of London13.64%
86% of respondents work in London.

5. How would you categorise your employment – for the most part?

Agency / Consultancy40.26%
Not-for-profit / Charity*8.44%
Trade association*7.79%
UK Parliament / Constituency5.19%
Civil Service, including Number 101.95%
UK Government, including Number 101.95%
Think tank0.65%
The Conservative Party0.65%
Two-fifths of respondents work for a consultancy vs 38% in-house*. Employment is at 99%.

6. How would you categorise your role – usually and for the most part?

Public affairs / Government relations / Lobbying56.49%
Public relations / Media relations / Corporate communications / Financial PR27.92%
Other, including Member of Parliament or Peer6.49%
Digital communications / Social media5.84%
UK Parliament / Constituency0.65%
56% of respondents work in public affairs vs 28% in public relations.

7. How would you categorise your seniority in the industry?

Director / Head*44.81%
CEO / Director General*6.49%
Chairman / Non-Executive Director*1.30%
Other, including Member of Parliament or Peer4.55%
53% of respondents are director level and above*.

8. Have you been, are you or would you like to be a:

Special Adviser?66.67%32.61%0.72%
Member of Parliament?47.62%52.38%0.00%
Two-thirds of respondents have an interest in the SpAd career path.
Less than half think the same about being an MP.


9. When did you join us?

Before our relaunch in May 201937.01%
After our relaunch in May 201962.99%
About two-thirds of respondents have joined since our relaunch.

10. How did you discover us – in the first instance?

Colleague / Friend38.31%
Social media, including LinkedIn and Twitter31.82%
Ellwood Atfield17.53%
Word of mouth8.44%
News article e.g. ConservativeHome.com3.25%
38% of respondents joined because of a colleague / friend vs 32% via social media.

11. Why did you join us?

Industry networking85.71%
Social aspect50.65%
Contribute ideas and content45.45%
Industry news34.42%
Business development31.82%
Stay relevant31.17%
Job opportunities24.68%
Receive newsletter20.13%
Respondents cited industry networking (86%) and the social aspect (51%) as main reasons for joining us.

12. Are you interested in being:

Mentored by another supporter?66.19%33.91%
A mentor to another supporter?72.22%27.78%
(Excluding those who don’t know) Almost three quarters of respondents are interested in becoming a mentor while two thirds are interested in being mentored.

13. How should we get more women involved?

Separate analysis.

14. Would you or your firm be interested in learning more about:

YesNoDon’t know
Hosting and / or sponsoring an event for us?50.00%29.87%20.13%
Contributing and / or sponsoring content on our blog / in our newsletter?27.27%49.35%23.38%
(Excluding those who don’t know) Half of respondents and / or their firms are interested in hosting and / or sponsoring an event for us in the future. Please get in touch.


15. Since May 2019, we have organised three events with speakers:

  • Relaunch: Lord Black in conversation with Katie Perrior
  • Autumn: Kulveer Ranger in conversation with The Rt Hon Priti Patel MP
  • Spring: Industry panel with Sir Robbie Gibb, Paul Goodman and Professor Goodwin.

How many of these did you:

One or moreNone
Sign-up for?57.52%42.48%
50% of respondents have attended one or more of our networking events vs 58% who registered.

16. How could we improve our events?


17. If you couldn’t attend any of our events, after RSVPing, what was the reason why?

Work commitment58.11%
Personal circumstance17.57%
Competing event10.81%
Change of heart2.70%
(Excluding N/A) 76% of respondents were distracted by work and personal commitments.

18. As of right now, are you planning to attend:

CiC Summer Reception 2020?78.22%21.78%
Conservative Party Conference 2020?81.03%18.97%
(Excluding those who don’t know) Fourth-fifths of respondents are still planning to attend party conference in Birmingham.


19. Do you:

Read our newsletter?86.36%13.64%
Visit our website?50.65%49.35%
86% of respondents read our newsletter while 51% visit our new website.

20. How can we improve our newsletter and website?


21. What would you like to be in the newsletter?

Event invitations80.52%
Job opportunities62.99%
Industry updates (summarised news)61.04%
Hear from our parliamentary patrons59.09%
Blog content54.55%
Careers advice50.00%
Mentoring opportunities50.00%
Hear from our industry patrons42.21%
Hear from our chair38.96%
Hear from our directors33.12%
Book reviews25.97%
Competitions / quizzes11.04%
81% of respondents would like to receive invitations to events, but other factors are gaining traction.


22. How would you rate the UK Government’s Covid-19 communications strategy?

Mean average 3.18 out of 5. Average score.

23. How would you rate the original ‘Stay home, Protect the NHS, Save lives’ slogan?

Mean average 4.49 out of 5. Good score.

24. What, if at all, should the new slogan be?


25. Which Cabinet minister has impressed you the most (at the podium and during interviews)?

Rishi Sunak54.25%
Boris Johnson15.03%
Matt Hancock13.07%
Michael Gove6.54%
Alok Sharma2.61%
Grant Shapps2.61%
Priti Patel2.61%
Dominic Raab1.31%
George Eustice0.65%
Robert Jenrick0.65%
Gavin Williamson0.00%
Oliver Dowden0.00%
Respondents are most impressed with the Chancellor of the Exchequer over other cabinet ministers. The Prime Minister and Health Secretary follow behind. Two cabinet ministers received no votes. The Home Secretary was the only woman in the mix.

26. How would you rate these aspects of the daily press briefings? (Out of 5)

Weighted average
The visual look: setting, podiums, branding3.79
Inviting the public to ask questions3.70
Regularity of daily briefings3.54
Use of visual aides3.51
Simplicity of the messaging3.42
Variety of the spokespeople3.42
Duration of daily briefings3.34
Respondents were positive about all nine aspects of the daily press briefings. Visuals strongest, duration weakest (time-keeping an issue as per the comments).

27. Do you think Number 10 should host daily televised press briefings in the future?

(Excluding those who don’t know) While the daily press briefings have been largely successful, there is little appetite for them to become a permanent fixture akin to The White House.

28. Some polling indicates that trust in the mainstream media (MSM) is lower than before the pandemic. Overall, do you believe the MSM has provided balanced and unbiased reporting?

Almost two-thirds of respondents believe the MSM is failing to provide balanced and unbiased reporting.

29. How trustworthy are these news brands? (Out of 5)

Weighted average
Channel 52.94
Channel 42.53
Al Jazeera2.45
Russia Today1.46
In terms of trustworthiness, half of the news brands received positive scores, with Bloomberg and the BBC leading the pack. Russia Today, by quite some margin, and Al Jazeera received the lowest weighted averages.


30. Were you able to take advantage of flexible working or work from home schemes before the pandemic?

73% of respondents benefited from flexible working and / or working from home before the lockdown.

31. Will you be advocating for the same or more flexible working or working from home schemes after the pandemic?

Having made a success of it, 90% of respondents will be advocating for the same or more flexible working and / or working from home after the lockdown eases.

32. What did you like most about working from home?

No commute77.27%
Flexible working60.39%
Higher productivity43.51%
More time to be active41.56%
More money for other things40.91%
More time with family33.12%
Time to really think32.47%
Trust from my manager27.92%
Greater availability19.48%
Not applicable1.30%
Respondents do not miss the commute, are taking advantage of flexible working and two-fifths are more productive.

33. What did you like least about working from home?

Less time with colleagues59.74%
Distinguishing between work / home58.44%
Less time with friends45.45%
Making a decent routine21.43%
Preferred my old routine16.23%
Juggling my family responsibilities15.58%
Less time with family9.09%
Not applicable4.55%
Respondents are missing their colleagues and their friends, and three-fifths struggle to distinguish between work and home.

34. “I’m optimistic about the future of our sector.” Where do you stand on that position statement?

Mean average 7.24 out of 10. Good score.


35. All things considered, do you feel being a supporter of us is worthwhile?

97% of respondents feel being a supporter of our network is worthwhile.

36. Right now, Conservatives in Communications is staffed by volunteers and is limited in the services it can provide. The cost of maintaining our website and platforms (Eventbrite, MailChimp, SurveyMonkey and WordPress etc), time, travel and very limited entertaining is covered by the staff themselves. Would you be willing to contribute a small annual amount to continue receiving added valued newsletters based on more options as in Q21?

62% of respondents would be willing to contribute a small annual amount to the upkeep of the network.

37. How much would you be willing to pay per annum?

Up to £2059.74%
Up to £2521.43%
Up to £309.09%
Up to £494.55%
Up to £352.6%
£50 or more2.6%
60% of respondents would be willing to contribute up to £20 per annum.

38. Please let us know about any other feedback you have.


A lockdown readathon

Adam Honeysett-Watts is Principal Director at Conservatives in Communications

Having badgered folks to read more books during the lockdowns, I decided to practice what I was preaching and also to make a note of everything I got through (all 36 – circa 11,000 pages). The only sequence to the below is the order in which I finished them. This list combines non-fiction and fiction titles as well as political and non-political genres.

For consistency, all links direct to publisher sites or Amazon. For availability, check with your independent bookseller before online retailers. Book information relates to the copies I own.

1. The MAGA Doctrine: The Only Ideas That Will Win the Future by Charlie Kirk

HarperCollins | 2020 | Hardback | 256 pages            

Love him or loathe him, Donald J. Trump is the 45th President of the US; but, how did we end up here? Turning Point USA’s founder-president sets out the ‘Make America Great Again’ (MAGA) stall – the movement that brought Trump to The White House – and how he intends to win a second term (clue: ‘Keep America Great’ is the new slogan).

Rating: 3 out of 5.

2. National Populism: The Revolt Against Liberal Democracy by Roger Eatwell & Matthew Goodwin

Penguin | 2018 | Paperback | 384 pages

Professor Goodwin brought up ‘national populism’ – the 21st century conundrum, including MAGA, that’s challenging mainstream politics – at the Conservatives in Communications Spring 2020 Reception. This text goes further – beyond lazy stereotypes of Brexit and Trump supporters – and looks at what is next: will Matteo Salvini become the next Prime Minister of Italy?

Rating: 4 out of 5.

3. Call Me by Your Name by André Aciman

Atlantic | 2009 | Paperback | 256 pages

Set in 1980s Italy – in fact, the film was directed about an hour from Salvini’s hometown of Milan – this real page-turner centres on the blossoming relationship between an intellectually precocious and curious teenager, Elio, and a visiting scholar, Oliver. It chronicles their short, summer romance and the 20 years that follow, which is developed in the sequel ‘Find Me’.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

4. Find Me by André Aciman

Faber & Faber | 2019 | Hardback | 272 pages

Billed as the sequel to ‘Call Me by Your Name’, this novel focuses on three romances: that of Elio’s father and a younger woman, called Miranda; that of Elio and an older man, called Michel; and that of Elio and yes, Oliver. If you discovered the former, you should definitely read this; though a word of warning… manage your expectations!

Rating: 3 out of 5.

5. The Gatekeeper by Kate Fall

HarperCollins | 2020 | Hardback | 272 pages

The Baroness was at the heart of David Cameron’s administration for over a decade. As one of the former Prime Minister’s most trusted advisers (Deputy Chief of Staff), this is a must-read for any current and wannabe media or policy SpAd. It is full to the brim with snippets of information, including several new revelations.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

6. Triggered: How the Left Thrives on Hate and Wants to Silence Us by Donald Trump Jr.

Center Street | 2019 | Hardback | 304 pages

This isn’t elegant prose, but it’s a wide-ranging and colourful book – think Boris Johnson and Jeremy Clarkson on speed – that covers everything from his childhood to the present day and beyond. If you follow him on social media and you’re (i) right-leaning – you will love it, but if you’re (ii) anything else – I can’t really guarantee your reaction.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

7. Friends, Voters, Countrymen: Jottings on the Stump by Boris Johnson

HarperCollins | 2002 | Paperback | 288 pages

Like ‘The Gatekeeper’ – albeit early on in his career – this memoir, of his campaign to become the MP for Henley and endorsed by Jeremy Paxman, is essential reading for any Tory candidate. It is both educational and entertaining, and reflective of his personal style for The Telegraph and The Spectator, including phrases that are now synonymous with him.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

8. The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam by Douglas Murray

Bloomsbury | 2018 | Paperback | 384 pages

The Literary Review is spot on here: “Disagree passionately if you will, but you won’t regret reading it.” The author dares to tread where others have avoided like the plague – focusing on three traditionally sensitive topics – however, in my opinion, he does it all rather well; although, perhaps, it could have been written with half as many words.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

9. Seventy Two Virgins by Boris Johnson

HarperCollins | 2005 | Paperback | 336 pages

Now Shadow Arts Minister, this was his first novel to be published, thereby making him the third novelist – after Disraeli and Churchill – to become Prime Minister. POTUS is set to address both Houses of Parliament and there’s an Islamist terrorist plot to assassinate him. Roger Barlow, a hapless backbench MP (hapless like the book), aims to foil the attack to distract from a scandal.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

10. Matteo Salvini: Italy, Europe and the New Right by Alessandro Franzi & Alessandro Madron

goWare | 2019 | Paperback | 104 pages

This is a map that seeks to answer one simple question: who is Matteo Salvini, really? As both Vice-Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior (in 2018) the number of non-European illegal immigrants to land in Italy fell by 100,000, and – if current polls are to be believed and his digital and media strategy is anything to go by – he is on course to become their next prime minister.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

11. Have I Got Views for You by Boris Johnson

HarperCollins | 2008 | Paperback | 448 pages            

Published just after he was elected as Mayor of London (first term), this is an anthology of some of his best articles for The Daily Telegraph – such as observations on British society and foreign affairs (including China) – coupled with several new hits. As with both ‘Friends, Voters, Countrymen’ and ‘The Churchill Factor’, this is educational, entertaining and easy to read.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

12. Positive Populism: Revolutionary Ideas to Rebuild Economic Security, Family, and Community in America by Steve Hilton

Penguin | 2018 | Hardback | 240 pages

Along with another Steve (Bannon) and Dominic Cummings, Hilton is one of the political mavericks of our age. Here – in a similar vein to his ‘Invitation to Join the Government of Britain’ (Conservative Party 2010 manifesto) – he begins with an ‘invitation for you to participate in the next revolution’ and puts forward interesting ideas on the economy, society and government.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

13. The Dream of Rome by Boris Johnson

HarperCollins | 2007 | Paperback | 304 pages

Now Shadow Education Minister, here, he discusses how the Roman Empire achieved political and cultural unity in Europe, and compares it to the failure of the European Union to do the same. Not usually one for historical books, this is both an authoritative and amusing study – with plenty of lessons for all of us – and I read it in a few sittings.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

14. The Wages of Spin by Bernard Ingham

John Murray | 2003 | Hardback | 272 pages

This week marks over three decades since Britain elected its first female Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. Sir Bernard’s a journalist and former civil servant, who served as the Iron Lady’s Chief Press Secretary throughout her time in No.10. We hear first-hand (and slowly) how spin-doctoring developed, from the man who is wrongly attributed with its invention.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

15. Campus Battlefield: How Conservatives Can Win the Battle on Campus and Why It Matters by Charlie Kirk

Post Hill Press | 2018 | Hardback | 160 pages

I’d read mixed reviews about this, but purchased a copy, since I enjoyed ‘The MAGA Doctrine’ and wanted to see whether Charlie’s experiences resonated with my own young conservative days. Bit pricey, considering how short the text is; however, there’s good intention and some decent content – if you ignore the partisan approach, marketing pitch and re-printings of his tweets!

Rating: 3 out of 5.

16. My Fellow Prisoners by Mikhail Khodorkovsky

Penguin | 2014 | Paperback | 96 pages

Described by The Economist as “the Kremlin’s leading critic-in-exile” (after eight years inside he now resides in London), this is a selection of brilliantly written essays about the author’s first hand accounts of prison life and the people he encountered. It is a clever and quick read, and more people should be made aware of it.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

17. Dangerous by Milo Yiannopoulos

Dangerous | 2017 | Hardback | 232 pages

Akin to ‘Campus Battlefield’, I’d heard mixed reviews and all of the drama around its release just made me want to read it more. The reality, in my opinion, is that the contents of the book, while certainly not everyone’s cup of tea, are far less controversial than its publication (even boring in parts) – conservatives will largely agree with his message while liberals will largely disagree.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

18. The Descent of Man by Grayson Perry

Penguin | 2017 | Paperback | 160 pages

The celebrated artist and media personality Grayson Perry explores masculinity. In short, I think it is well written (and illustrated) – although it took me a while to get into it; however, I didn’t feel there was anything new and therefore, at best, it’s a conversation starter (perhaps that alone might be considered a success?)

Rating: 3 out of 5.

19. Michael Gove: A Man in a Hurry by Owen Bennett

Biteback | 2019 | Hardback | 432 pages

Ignoring the endless typos (I have never spotted so many typos in one book – did anyone proof it?), I really enjoyed reading this biography. The author successfully combines old and fresh information to tell us the story about one of the most recognisable and central characters in British politics today.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

20. Celsius 7/7 by Michael Gove

Weidenfeld & Nicolson | 2006 | Hardback | 160 pages

I only learned about this text having read Owen Bennett’s book on the man (see above), but glad I did. In writing ‘Celsius 7/7’, which describes how the West’s policy of appeasement has provoked yet more fundamentalist terror, Gove names both Dominic Cummings and Douglas Murray among those whose conversations and ideas helped shape his thinking.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

21. First Confession: A Sort of Memoir by Chris Patten

Penguin | 2017 | Hardback | 320 pages

A man who’s been there at pivotal moments: Chairman of the Party (winning the 1992 election, but losing his own Bath seat), the last Governor of Hong Kong, Chairman of the Independent Commission on Policing for Northern Ireland (pursuant to the Good Friday Agreement) and Chairman of the BBC Trust (when the Jimmy Savile scandal broke). Absolutely captivating.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

22. Party Games by Fiona Cuthbertson

Blossom Spring | 2020 | Paperback | 316 pages

Fiona’s first novel addresses love and corruption in the seat of power – from a female perspective. However, for those of either sex and who have worked in Parliament or on Whitehall will enjoy this – and perhaps associate with some of the content. I look forward to her second book, which is in the works.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

23. Great Again: How to Fix Our Crippled America by Donald J. Trump

Simon & Schuster | 2016 | Paperback | 208 pages

I didn’t read this in 2016, however I decided to now since he’s seeking re-election. In a similar vein to ‘The MAGA Doctrine’, you get a better feel what the 45th President of the US does and doesn’t believe, but this time you get to judge him on his record in office as well as in business. I wonder if Boris has read it too (see “get it done” p.123 and “shovel-ready projects” p.165)?

Rating: 3 out of 5.

24. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Penguin | 1994 | Paperback | 256 pages

A friend of mine bought this for my 18th birthday (I’m not sure what she was hinting at) and, though I’ve watched the 2019 film adaptation, I’ve never got round to reading this gift – until now, during lockdown. Another book I wish I’d read earlier as the writing is beautiful and I’ve a lot to learn.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

25. One Minute to Ten: Cameron, Miliband and Clegg. Three Men, One Ambition and the Price of Power by Dan Hodges

Penguin | 2016 | Paperback | 384 pages

I’m (usually) a fan of Dan Hodges’ writing, so it wasn’t a difficult choice to pick-up a copy of this book (in 2016). Then, I couldn’t get beyond the first chapter. Four years later, I still struggled with it but persevered and I’m glad that I did as it takes off – a smart and unique account of the 2015 general election campaign and the three party leaders.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

26. Why Can’t We All Just Get Along… Shout Less. Listen More. by Iain Dale

HarperCollins | 2020 | Hardback | 304 pages

Great read. I’m not just saying that because we both studied at “the very left-wing” University of East Anglia, worked/ interned for the staunch right-winger David Davis MP, nor was his chief of staff/ backed him until the leadership hustings in Cambridgeshire… This is “part-memoir, part-polemic about the state of public discourse in Britain and the world today”, and it’s spot on.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

27. Dial M for Murdoch by Tom Watson and Martin Hickman

Penguin | 2012 | Hardback | 384 pages

This is a tale about News Corporation and the corruption of Britain, according to the former Deputy Leader of the Labour Party and active member of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee. My reading this happens to coincide with the BBC airing a new three-part documentary series ‘The Rise of the Murdoch Dynasty’. Both excellent.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

28. First They Took Rome: How the Populist Right Conquered Italy by David Broder

Verso | 2020 | Hardback | 192 pages

Similar to Franzi and Madron’s book ‘Matteo Salvini: Italy, Europe and the New Right’ (as above), this is a forensic, educational read – written by a left-wing author – especially for non-Italians who want to understand what has been happening in Italy these past three decades. It’s a shame it took until three quarters of the way through to get to the important bit!

Rating: 3 out of 5.

29. The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst

Picador | 2005 | Paperback | 512 pages

It’s a classic novel about class, politics and sexuality in Margaret Thatcher’s 1980s Britain. Similar to ‘One Minute to Ten’, I struggled with the very early chapters and put it back on the shelf. I picked it up again this summer and made headway. I’m glad I did because it’s quite excellent and clearly deserving of its awards.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

30. The Spirit of London by Boris Johnson

HarperCollins | 2012 | Paperback | 448 pages

Like ‘The Dream of Rome’ this is an interesting and entertaining history of the British capital. This updated version of ‘Johnson’s Life of London’ – which focuses on some very famous figures and some rather obscure ones – includes material following the Jubilee and Olympic celebrations in 2012. I hope the Spirit of the United Kingdom shines through in his CPC20 speech.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

31. Order, Order! The Rise and Fall of Political Drinking by Ben Wright

Duckworth Overlook | 2017 | Paperback | 368 pages

One of the BBC’s political correspondents, Ben Wright, explores the history of alcohol in global politics, including a section titled ‘Party Time’. I confess that I was one of the “tight-suited delegates from Conservative Future” in the Midland Hotel he refers to (p.215). I found this witty and informative. Another one that all aspiring politicians should read and take note of.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

32. The Art of the Deal by Donald J. Trump with Tony Schwartz

Penguin | 2016 | Paperback | 384 pages

Ghost written by Tony Schwartz, this is a part memoir, part business-advice book and part auto-hagiography – President Donald J. Trump has referred to it as one of his proudest accomplishments and his second-favourite book after the Bible (which he has clearly never read!) It gives readers insight into how he works and the motivations behind the current man sitting in the Oval Office.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

33. Diary of an MP’s Wife: Inside and Outside Power by Sasha Swire

Little, Brown | 2020 | Hardback | 544 pages

I think The Times perfectly describes this one: A gossipy, amusing, opinionated account of what it’s like to be married to an MP [Sir Hugo Swire KCMG]… Good fun and eye-opening.”  I can’t remember enjoying a book so much for a long time – an absolute must-read; it is well written and wonderfully indiscreet about senior politicians – friends and foes alike – over the past decade.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

34. Left Out: The Inside Story of Labour Under Corbyn by Gabriel Pogrund and Patrick Maguire

Bodley Head | 2020 | Hardback | 384 pages

For any political junkie, this is a fascinating account of the tragic-comedy that defined the Labour party under Jeremy Corbyn MP and it should serve as a warning to all future political movements. Britain really deserves an effective Opposition to hold the Government to account; the question is whether Sir Keir Starmer MP can turn things around – my sense is partially, but not by enough.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

35. The Political Animal: An Anatomy by Jeremy Paxman

Penguin | 2003 | Paperback | 352 pages

What makes politicians tick? Like ‘Friends, Voters, Countrymen’ and ‘The Gatekeeper’ I’d consider this essential reading for all, not just Tory, candidates. I also learned about another fact for my Churchill vs Johnson comparison: When Sir Winston took over from Neville Chamberlain in 1940, he inherited an 81-seat majority – equal to that achieved by No.10’s current tenant in 2019.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

36. The Unmaking of the President 2016: How FBI Director James Comey Cost Hillary Clinton the Presidency by Lanny J. Davis

Scribner | 2018 | Hardback | 240 pages

The author argues that former FBI Director James Comey’s letter to Congress – sent just before the 2016 US Presidential election – was a significant determining factor in Donald J. Trump’s win. Hillary Clinton was decisively ahead of him in many polls and, more importantly, in the key battleground states – that can’t be disputed; however, there were many factors at play here.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

If you have ideas for the group or would like to get involved, please email us.

Lionel’s pub quiz

Lionel Zetter, Patron, has put together a quiz for PRCA members / guests, and they invite Conservatives in Communications to participate.

  1. Who was the only post-war British prime minister who attended university not to have gone to Oxford? The Rt Hon Gordon Brown
  2. Name one sitting MP, other than Dominic Raab, who is a martial arts black belt. Shailesh Vara
  3. Other than Boris Johnson, who is the only other prime minister to have been born outside the UK? Andrew Bonar Law
  4. Which sitting MP has a quadruple barrelled surname? Richard Grosvenor Plunkett-Ernle-Erle-Drax
  5. Which school gives pupils a day off when a former pupil becomes prime minister? Eton College
  6. Which Labour frontbencher’s father was a tool-maker? Sir Keir Starmer
  7. Which Lib Dems first name was a hit for Derek and the Dominos? Layla Moran
  8. Which sitting MP is the only MP to have appeared on BBC’s ‘Top of the Pops’? Pete Wishart
  9. Which MP shares a name with a power station? Richard Drax
  10. Which hereditary peer and current government minister had previously founded (and then sold) his own public affairs consultancy? The Lord Bethell

Please email your answers to him before 5pm on Monday, April 27. Thanks in advance for your entries!